UPI: The Supreme Court of Iran has voided the death penalty sentence of a former U.S. Marine convicted of spying, officials said.
United Press International
TEHRAN, March 5 (UPI) — The Supreme Court of Iran has voided the death penalty sentence of a former U.S. Marine convicted of spying, officials said.
The decision, reported by Iranian media Monday, quoted a state prosecutor as saying problems were discovered in the case against Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, 28, and a new trial would be conducted, The New York Times reported.
“To the extent that I am aware, the Supreme Court has objected to Hekmati’s sentence,” Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, Iran’s prosecutor-general, said during a news conference Monday. “It has overturned the conviction and sent it to an equivalent court for retrial.”
Lawyers representing Hekmati had begun their appeal of his conviction, the first time an American in Iran was sentenced to death since the 1979 Islamic revolution, rights activists said.
The Iranian media reported that during his trial Hekmati said he was tricked into being a spy for the CIA and never meant to harm Iran, the Times said.
The CIA declined to comment. The White House and the State Department have denied that American-born Hekmati, who is of Iranian descent, was a spy and called for his immediate release.